Reviewing Celtic manager Neil Lennon's 2019
It has been a memorable year for Celtic manager Neil Lennon. The Hoops boss has enjoyed nothing but success in his return to the club, with one notable exception.
Lennon’s return to the club as caretaker manager came out of the blue. With Brendan Rodgers leaving the club in the lurch to join Leicester City, Lennon was available after recently leaving Hibs, and his first game as caretaker saw Celtic defeat Hearts 2-1.
Lennon went on to win the league and Scottish Cup, but the football played at times was poor. Nearly every game was a struggle, and it seemed unlikely that Lennon would get the job on a permanent basis.
Built a team for nine in a row
However, less than an hour after the Scottish Cup final win over Hearts, Celtic announced that the caretaker manager had been offered the permanent job. Lennon accepted, and set up building a team for nine in a row.
The tentativeness of the previous season was gone, and all out attack was the way to go. The tone was set by the 7-0 win over St Johnstone in the first league game of the season.
However, Celtic suffered a severe blow in August, when the Hoops were defeated 4-3 by Cluj and were knocked out of the Champions League. That could have been a fatal blow to a lesser manager, but not Neil Lennon.
He has bounced back from the loss in style. Every big game the Hoops have had since then they have won. The 2-0 win at Ibrox, the Betfred Cup Final, and perhaps most notably, the two wins over Lazio that clinched last 32 Europa League qualification.
Manager has recovered from setback in style
Lennon should be proud of the way that he has recovered from the Cluj loss, to get the Hoops top of the league and into the last 32 of the Europa League.
It has been a season of two halves for the Celtic manager. The football that has been played has gone from dull, to thrilling. Lennon deserves lots of credit for that.
It was probably sensible in hindsight to not take many risks last season. It allowed the Hoops to complete their third domestic treble in a row. When that was secured, Lennon seemed to think that his Celtic side needed a change in style and attitude. It has worked so far, with the Hoops flying high as they head towards the international break.
Neil Lennon’s return has been an unqualified success, and he should enjoy the end to 2019, with Celtic well on the way to securing nine in a row.